We just installed the front door on our house after living with a walled off entryway for 5 months. As my dad and I shimmed the door in, I felt proud. I went out on the front lawn to admire our brand new peppercorn door (peppercorn is apparently the new name for black). Midway through my admiring, I began to think about how little it actually means to have a door.
Up until having it I worried that people wouldn’t come to visit. Isn’t the front door where guests usually come in? But as I looked at that beautiful door I realized one thing – IT’S CLOSED!
You may think, of course it's closed. But I am not referring to the literal sense of the word. Rather, I am talking about our culture as it relates to hospitality. In America, our homes are usually closed for so many reasons:
- The house is a mess (Karyn’s classic excuse)
- I’ve been at work all day and just need some quiet (my deal, even though our house is rarely quiet with 3 little ones).
- We just don’t have time to have guests over.
- I haven't showered or put on makeup (any moms relate?)
- I don’t have anything to feed guests.
- What if they don’t want to come over (fear of rejection!)?
The list could go on and on.
“Doors” are NEVER CLOSED in Ethiopia. Their culture revolves around relationship, therefore homes are not places of privacy, solitude, or personal space. Homes are places for gathering, enjoying conversation with friends, and spending time in community.
Of course, this aspect of Ethiopian culture was a big adjustment for my family. We wanted privacy – to close ourselves off to the outside world and just be ALONE!
Now, there is nothing wrong with alone time, but I do think Ethiopians have something to teach us Americans about hospitality. Simply put, their “open doors” communicate a concern for others; the concept that others matter and life is not just about me.
I don’t know about you but I need an extra dose of this lesson. I get tired of constantly thinking about myself.
Take some time this week to be a little more Ethiopian and invite some friends, acquaintances, or whomever over and invest in their lives. Believe me, community feels good when you take the time to develop it.
What keeps you from opening your door?